You’d be surprised to know this, but the USDA states that you can eat frozen meat regardless of how old they are as long as they are frozen at 0°F or lower than that. But there are many things to consider when eating frozen meat. For instance, they may have gone bad, or their texture may be ruined permanently. So I urge you to go through this article to learn everything there is to know about frozen meat.
Let us begin!
What Does Freezing Meat Do?
It is a common misconception that frozen meat destroys and kills all bacteria, pathogens, and parasites in the meat. But in reality, that is wrong. Freezing meat doesn’t kill any of those microorganisms. Frozen meat at 0°F or lower DEACTIVATES them and stops them from growing and spreading.
However, once the meat is thawed, these microorganisms can spring back to life and multiply. So it is a good practice to not leave out thawed meat for too long, especially outside the fridge.
Another popular myth is that when meat is frozen, it destroys all its nutritional value. It could not be more wrong. Freezing any food never destroys its nutritional value of the food. That being said, the quality and texture of the food may be altered to a great extent.
Freezing any food item prevents the food from spoiling quickly, even inside the fridge. When you freeze food, it gradually becomes cold—this cooling and freezing slow down all the activity inside the meat. And after a certain point, when the product is frozen, all the chemicals and enzymes in the product slowly stop reacting and working. It, in turn, means a longer shelf life for the product that is frozen.
What is the Best Way to Freeze Meat?
You will need a few things to freeze meat effectively and adequately while maintaining safety regulations.
This is what you need:
- Cling Film
- Aluminum Foil
- Ziplock bags
- Kitchen Towels
If your meat is already packed and sealed, then you can keep them in the freezer directly. Also, if you have a vacuum sealer, then it makes your life a lot easier.
Now follow these steps to freeze your meat:
- First, wash your meat and get rid of excess blood.
- Next, you need to pat them dry with the kitchen towels. It is optional, but it’s recommended that you do this.
- After that, if you have a large quantity of meat, you should divide it and portion it according to your needs. It is a very crucial thing you can do as it is better for the long run.
- Once the meat has been portioned, you need to wrap them in cling film and remove as much air as you can. It is where having a vacuum sealer comes in handy.
- You can optionally wrap it in another layer of cling film.
- Next, take the aluminum foil and wrap it.
- Lastly, place the wrapped and sealed meat inside a ziplock bag or a container inside the fridge.
It is the best way to freeze meat. It will ensure that the meat stays in optimal condition and prevent the meat from getting freezer burns. Now you may be wondering what freezer burn is. Let’s see:
What is Freezer Burn? Is It Safe to Eat Meat that has Freezer Burns?
Freezer burn is a thing that happens to frozen products. When any frozen product has exposed parts, as in if it is in direct contact with the cold freezer air, it tends to lose its moisture at that place and dry up and become discolored. You’ll be surprised to learn this, but eating products with freezer burns is safe.
But just because it is “safe to eat” doesn’t mean it is “good to eat.” When any product suffers from freezer burns, the affected portion loses its texture and quality. You won’t get sick from eating those portions. Still, it is highly recommended that you cut off those portions before or after cooking as they won’t taste pleasing and palatable. Read this article from us to learn how to determine if the frozen chicken has gone bad.
How to Thaw Frozen Meat?
There are many ways of thawing frozen meat. Here they are
1. Thawing Frozen Meat Inside the Fridge
It is probably the easiest way to thaw frozen meat. However, it is a slow process. To thaw frozen meat in the fridge, take the frozen meat out of the freezer and place it inside the fridge overnight. You may want to put it in a container, as water may drip from the frozen meat and cause a mess.
You should remember that the bigger the package is, the more time it will take to thaw out. So make sure you consider that.
2. Thawing Frozen Meat in the Microwave
It is the most effective and efficient way to thaw and defrost meat. Use the defrost function of your oven, set the meat type and weight correctly, and wait patiently. You may want to flip the meat over halfway through.
3. Thawing Frozen Meat with Water
It is a less popular method. Fill up your sink with water and plug in the stopper. Next, dump your frozen meat in the water. And let it slowly thaw out. You will need to change the water periodically to expedite the process.
Remember to keep the packaging and wrapping on. The meat may absorb excess water, affecting its taste, quality, and texture.
Related Post: How Long is Deli Meat Good For?
4. Thawing Frozen Meat on the Counter
This is probably the most common method of thawing frozen meats. You can place the meat on your kitchen counter or sink and let it thaw overnight. However, it is advised to keep the meat in a container if you are not keeping it in the sink as it will cause condensation and drip water causing a mess.
How to Tell if Frozen Meat Has Gone Bad?
It is very easy to tell if your frozen meat has gone bad. Here are a few ways:
- By texture: If your meat is mushy and starts to disintegrate or separate its fibers, it has gone bad.
- By smell: If there is any rotten or weird smell coming from the meat, then you should discard it immediately
Fun Fact : Meat never goes bad inside the fridge. It may develop freezer burns, but it won’t go bad. It goes bad during its thawing process and if it is left to thaw out in the open for too long.
How Long Can Meat Be Frozen?
First of all, any food product can be frozen for an indefinite amount of time and still be “safe to eat.” Again, there is a difference between “safe to eat” and “good to eat.” Food can be safe to eat but not good to eat. Safe to eat means you won’t get sick from it. But “good to eat” in this case means it will be tasty as it retains its flavor, texture, and quality.
|Red Meats||Up to a year||6-12 months|
|Poultry||Up to a year||Up to 9 months|
|Seafood||Up to a year||3-6 months|
|Processed Meats||Up to a year||Up to 4 months|
|Ground Meats||Up to a year||3-12 months|
The shelf life of cooked foods depends on many factors, but generally, they can last up to a year.
Now, can you marinate frozen chicken? You may want to know about this as well.
Answering Some FAQ
Is it safe to eat meats with freezer burns?
Yes, but it is recommended that you don’t cut off the freezer-burned portion.
Can you refreeze meats?
Yes, as long as it hasn’t gone bad, you can refreeze both cooked and uncooked portions of meat.
Can meat spoil inside the freezer?
No, if you store them properly and your freezer is running normally, then the meat will never spoil inside the freezer.
Can you eat meat more than 2 years old?
Yes, as long as they have been stored in sub-zero temperatures, they are safe to eat even if they are 10 years old!
How does frozen meat go bad?
Frozen meat goes if it is improperly thawed and left out for more than 2 hours after thawing.
The Final Words
I hope this article has given you all the information you were seeking. I tried to clear out some of the frozen meat’s most common myths. I hope you learned something useful today, and yes, have a fantastic day ahead!
Eva M. Smith is the owner of this website. She is a 4 year old mother of two kids and a professional chef. Eva loves to cook for her family, but being a working mom has a lot of challenges. From squeezing in time to do the groceries to make three meals for the day. Eva knows how challenging cooking can be without a kitchen game plan.
That’s why she perfected techniques of preserving staple ingredients and several foods so that you have something pre-cooked or pre-baked to use for an array of meals. And they do not come short in flavor! And she does not want to sacrifice flavor with convenience. That’s why she is the best person to ask.